Brendan Rodgers hoping to see Leicester fightback in second half of season
Brendan Rodgers hopes a fightback in the second half of the season will be the “story” that defines Leicester’s campaign this time round.
For the last two seasons, the Foxes have looked like finishing fourth in the Premier League only to falter and miss out on qualification for the Champions League on the final day on each occasion.
This time, Rodgers’ side are playing catch up. Leicester head into their home game against sixth-placed Tottenham on Wednesday night 10th in the table, but with as many as four games in hand on some teams above them due to coronavirus postponements.
Should they win all of those rescheduled matches, the Foxes would be level on points with West Ham – who currently occupy fourth spot.
After disappointing finishes in previous season, Rodgers is hopeful of a memorable second half of the campaign.
“It is nice to get some injured players back for what will be a very busy second half to the season,” said the Leicester boss.
“It has been a challenge for us, no doubt, the first half (of the season) and it is great credit to the players for some of the performances that we have had.
“We always look to improve and our story this year might be the second half of the season.
“We have shown that resilience and mentality that you need so with players coming back, and hopefully we can get that rhythm back in the team, I am hopeful we can have a great second half of the season.
“It is all about adversity and how you react to that and the players have shown time and time again that they are good at that. There’s lots of games to play and lots still to play for.”
Rodgers will have several players back in contention for what will be Leicester’s first Premier League game of 2022.
Postponements have meant the FA Cup third-round win against Watford on January 8 is the only match the Foxes have played this year.
However, the break has given Patson Daka, James Justin, Caglar Soyuncu, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Luke Thomas the time they needed to fully recover from injuries, while Boubakary Soumare and Ayoze Perez are both fit again after illness.
However, Timothy Castagne faces two months out after he was forced to undergo an operation on his thigh injury.
The Belgium international suffered a dead leg in the 1-0 victory over Liverpool in the final game of 2021, but complications in the recovery mean he has needed surgery.
He will now spend eight to nine weeks on the sidelines, and joins Jamie Vardy and Jonny Evans among City’s long-term absentees.
“Timothy has had an operation so he is probably eight to nine weeks (out),” said Rodgers.
“He had an issue with his thigh and he needed to go and have an operation.
“He had blood that normally you would ice and compress and it would go away, but the blood kept returning to his thigh, so we needed to have an operation quickly to release that, so that’s put him out for a number of weeks.”
Ryan Bertrand (knee) and Ricardo Pereira (broken leg) remain out and Kelechi Iheanacho, Daniel Amartey, Wilfred Ndidi and Nampalys Mendy are at the Africa Cup of Nations.